Person walking in heavy rain with umbrella

If you’ve noticed that torrential rain storms are getting more common, you’re right.

Andreas Prein of the National Center for Atmospheric Research says the amount of rain that falls during the most intense storms is increasing all over the country. The change is most extreme in northeastern states …

Prein: “… where we have up to seventy percent higher intensities of rainfall than we had fifty years ago.”

One of the reasons is that warmer air can hold more evaporated water. So as temperatures increase, clouds can hold more moisture, which means more water can fall in a single storm.

And with more intense storms comes an increased risk of flash floods, which can threaten lives and damage property.

Prein says the risks are particularly great in urban areas. That’s because, with more paved surfaces and less vegetation, cities have fewer areas that can absorb stormwater. So flooding is more likely.

Prein: “Therefore urbanized areas have to update their infrastructure to be more prepared for flash flooding, and we have to try to limit global warming to a certain extent that the consequences don’t get unmanageable.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...